Host City: Sochi, Russia
Venue(s): Laura Cross-Country Ski & Biathlon Complex, Krasnaya Polyana
Date Started: February 15, 2014
Date Finished: February 15, 2014
This was a race that Norway was expected to win comfortably and the other nations would battle it out for the minor medals since Norway had won all 10 of the World Cup women's relays since winning the gold medal at Vancouver. At the end of the first leg Russia were the early leaders followed closely by the Czech Republic, Sweden with Ida Ingemarsdotter and Norway with Heidi Weng. But the good position of the Czech team was short-lived. Emma Wikén managed to finish the second leg in the lead for Sweden just ahead of Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Germany’s Stefanie Böhler. By now Norway was already 13 sec behind the leaders in fifth place and the early leaders Russia were back in seventh place. On the third leg Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen took the lead with an outstanding performance, with Germany’s Claudia Künzel-Nystad second by 5.2 sec. Sweden’s Anna Haag was already 25 seconds behind, another 7 seconds ahead of Poland and Norway.
But an outstanding final leg by Charlotte Kalla brought the Swedish team from third place to first on the final leg, as she recorded by far the fastest leg of any of the 56 skiers. Krista Lähteenmäki from Finland, leaders for much of the race, tried to overtake Kalla in the final few metres, but in an exciting finish, Kalla held on to win the gold medal, as Lähteenmäki claimed the silver for Finland, closely followed by [Denise Herrmann] who took bronze for Germany.
It was the first time in 46 years that Sweden won the gold medal in this event and their fastest skier, Charlotte Kalla, became the first athlete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to win three medals. The Norwegians never really got into the contest for medals, finishing a disappointing fifth behind the surprisingly strong French quartet.